An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Genre: Fantasy

Published: April 28th, 2015

Pages: 446

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐

Synopsis: Laia lives as a slave under the Martial Empire when she is thrown into the role of being a spy in order to save her brother. Elias is a soldier for the Martial Empire, but is desperately trying to escape when he gets chosen to compete to be the next Emperor.

Non-Spoiler Review:

I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by this book! The title, cover, and blurb seemed honestly very generic, but I really enjoyed this book!

I started out not very impressed with the story, since it began with Laia’s family being killed and imprisoned. This seems like a staple in YA fantasy, and to me, it is getting pretty old. However, I liked that Laia didn’t have any super random yet handy fighting skills. She was just kind of an average 17 year old girl. She becomes a spy, and honestly, she is not great at it at first, but she learns throughout the book.

I think Elias is really interesting. I think he breaks stereotypes a bit because he is the type of male character who is in the perfect situation to be a “bad guy”, but he really is trying to escape that life.

I thought the romance was a little…off putting, to be honest. It did feel a bit like instalove, but I am interested to see if and how it develops in future books. Speaking of future books, I immediately ordered the next book after finishing this one! I think there is so much potential for this story and world to grow, as well as room for the characters to develop even more.

One thing I really appreciated was that this book didn’t shy away from things. There are mentions and threats of rape, torture, and murder, because those are things that happen under oppressive rulers. It didn’t try to hide these things, but it didn’t use them as plot devices either (specifically rape).

I thought the magic was pretty cool, because at this point, it is still pretty mysterious. Again, it will be interesting to see where it develops. I am hoping to read A Torch Against the Night soon!

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